Speaking as an audiophile, radio as a hi-fi source kind of passed me by. Sure, I owned a hi-end tuner (the legendary Yamaha CT-7000, no less), but in thirty years it never saw much use. Living at ground level, surrounded by tall buildings, and not having an external aerial, good FM reception was always something of a lottery…
Had Dared’s RD-1 been around back then, things might’ve been very different. The RD-1 is a funky retro-looking valve table radio offering FM and DAB/DAB+ reception. It can be used as a tuner with a hi-fi system, or as a stand-alone unit with its own built-in loudspeakers. There are two analogue line inputs, plus an output for headphones.
The RD-1 is also capable of working with Bluetooth devices, so it’s a pretty versatile unit. Perhaps the only thing missing is a USB input to allow direct connection to a router for internet radio. The front panel carries an OLED display, and two rotary controls which function as switches when pressed, allowing a wide range of features to be accessed.
A supplied handset provides infra-red remote control, and gives access to extra functions such language (English, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese) and equalisation. The latter feature allows the sound of the RD-1 to be tweaked, and includes fixed EQ settings labelled ‘Jazz’, ‘Live’, ‘Bass Boost’, ‘Vocal’, etc,
The sound delivered by the RD-1 through its own loudspeakers is clear and pleasing, albeit somewhat curtailed at frequency extremes. Dialling in the various EQ settings juices-up the basic sound, but the differences aren’t massive. With the in-built loudspeakers being so close together, there’s limited stereo separation.
But the sound itself is very pleasant, being clear and open with good depth and breadth. Basically, you’ve got an extended mid-band, minus extreme highs and lows. Musically, the presentation is impressively clear and detailed; surprisingly-so, given the limited bandwidth. Speech sounds natural and properly articulated, without harsh sibilants.
Hooking the RD-1 up to a hi-fi system reveals the full capabilities of the unit. I mainly used my review sample on DAB radio – largely because good FM reception proved tricky due to my location. DAB gave clear clean noise-free results with the supplied aerial, and sounded very good.
As befits a tube product, the RD-1’s sonic presentation is smooth, well balanced, and refined. It avoids the bright forward immediacy of CD, and consequently can seem a tad restrained. It’s slightly lacking in extremes – both in terms of dynamics and upper and lower frequencies – but musically the results are always very listenable.